Moree Plains Shire Council to apply for funding for Moree and Mungindi projects through Murray-Darling Economic Development Program

Council to apply for funding for UNE SMART Region Incubator

With round two of the Murray-Darling Economic Development Program open for applications, Moree Plains Shire Council will be sending in two projects for consideration.

Council moved that it will submit an application for a UNE SMART Region Incubator and co-working space for Moree.

A UNE SMART Region Incubator is a connected space built to join regional businesses with growth potential together with academic business research, business mentors, corporate and community partners.

"It provides a means for start-ups and businesses that want to scale up to be put in contact with mentors to assist with business development," Moree Plains Shire Council's acting economic development and grants manager Susannah Pearse said.

"The reason why we put this project forward is it provides a real way to diversify what businesses we have in our community and encourages new businesses to be based here in Moree."

Council will apply for up to $450,000 through the fund, with current estimates of the project currently at around $557,000 to set it up and run it for two years.

If successful, council would allocated $40,000 from the Tourism and Economic Development (TED) fund in both financial years from 2020 to 2021 and 2021 to 2022 as co-funding towards the project.

"What we would require from the funding, is funding to rent a shop front in Moree which would also seek to improve the amenity of the Moree main street and also have a fitout and any building amendments that need to be made, and then operating costs," Mrs Pearse said.

"The budget that has been put together includes the community outreach manager for the SMART Region Incubator.

"What we have also done is put in the budget to set up a council desk so that we can move one of our existing staff members to actually work there, so during normal operating hours there would be a council staff member there."

After the first two years, council would be required to seek further funding to keep it running.

Mrs Pearse said this application is supported by IntellectAg, Cicada Innovations, Gwydir Valley Irrigators and the Moree and District Chamber of Commerce.

For Mungindi, a project has not been selected as of yet, with more deliberation required with the Mungindi Progress Association, who put forward a number of projects they would like to pursue.

Council moved to delegate to the general manager the development of an application for Mungindi that takes into account feedback from the Mungindi Progress Association, includes consultation with Balonne Shire to avoid competition and includes both strategic planning and works.

"I think we have to do something rather than spend money on reports," councillor Sue Price said.

"The 30-odd years I was in Mungindi, there was any number of reports and any number of ideas of what should happen and that's where it stopped.

"The Progress Association has got a list of projects there. If they fit the criteria, that's what we should be doing rather than get another report."

Both the Moree and Mungindi resolutions were moved by council unanimously.

Councillor Mike Montgomery called the UNE SMART Region Incubator a potential "game changer" for Moree and the region.

"This to me is the future of agriculture as we all know it," he said.

"This seems to be where the world is going and we need to be there and move it in the direction we want it.

"I think we need to have a real crack at this."